Next stop was just a 24 mile hop to Little Current, which is on Manitoulin Island. We made a slight detour to Covered Portage Cove. There is supposed to be a rock formation there that looks like an Indian Head. Couldn’t find it, but it was a beautiful area to travel. As we approached Little Current, we could see the Strawberry Island Lighthouse. This is where we leave Georgian Bay and enter The North Channel of Lake Huron.
Beyond the lighthouse was the Little Current Bridge. Our resource books warned that the current going under the bridge could be as strong as 6-7 knots (8 mph). So how is that a “little” current? Most of us agreed that it should be “Big Current.”
We did a radio call to the marina for a slip assignment and encountered a problem that many “transient” boaters have – poor communication. Our instructions were to turn left at “Wally’s” and then left again into a numbered slip. So if we’ve never been here, how are we supposed to know where “Wally’s” is located? We looked and looked – couldn’t find it. The man on the radio apparently spotted us and told us we were going too far. We turned and we were able to spot him on shore by the color of his shirt. We eventually saw the “Wally’s” sign. It’s circular – about 3 feet in diameter. NOT very visible from the water. Right next to it was a sign with a fuel pump to represent that they had fuel available for sale. THAT sign was about 6 x 8; MUCH more visible.
Wind and rain kept us in LC for 6 nights. We weren’t alone – several Loopers in the marina with us. We found things to keep us busy. We didn’t have a really good system for hoisting and holding the dinghy. It was mostly just our brute strength! Yeah, our backs were going to pay for that. Ed got some parts at a boat store. He rigged a new system and now he can hoist it all by himself. My back thanked him.
“Cruisers Net” is a half hour live broadcast that is on the VHF Marine radio everyday in July and August. Roy Eaton is the host and he gives weather info, a quick news update, a couple local interest sports scores, and then he opens the time for cruisers to radio in to give their present locations, relay messages, request assistance, or to just say “hi.” Sometimes he interviews a person of interest. He’s been doing this for over 15 years and has been a BIG promoter of the North Channel region, which starts at LC. We attended several of the shows including his last broadcast of the season on August 31. He was kind to review charts of the region with us and to share favorite places to visit along our way. We even had a visit from him on our boat where he gave us some additional info. Wonderful gentleman! Cruisers Net also hosted a Pot Luck Supper for all the cruisers in the area. Over 50 people came – LOTS of fun. That’s where we saw pictures of a boat that had been boarded by a bear! Oh goodness, I had hoped that was just a rumor, but no, actually 5 boats had been boarded before authorities captured the bear. Some things you DON’T want to experience.
On California Lady, Nancy and Mike celebrated their wedding anniversary, and then Nancy celebrated a birthday. For her birthday gift, we arranged a tour of the LC Bridge and operations room. It was a climb up the bridge to the operations room, but fun to get the views from there. We got a tour of the mechanism for opening the bridge and hoped to be on the bridge when it opened for boats but because it was such a windy day, no boats were traveling through while we were there.
When we came to LC, because of approaching bad weather, we had bypassed a very popular anchorage in Baie Fine, which is one of the few fjords in North America. We learned that a large tour boat in LC had a scheduled trip there. We wouldn’t take OUR boat in the windy conditions, but decided we would ride the big boat so that we could see what we had missed. SO glad that we did this. We rode out to the area – which was as beautiful as we had been told – and the boat was able to run up on shore at the end of the passage in an area called The Pool. We were given time to get off the boat so that we could hike to Topaz Lake. WOW – what a sight THAT was. Clear green-blue water that sparkled. Some people went swimming–the Canadians. The day was a bit cold for us Southerners! I think I heard the water temp described as “bracing!”
One of the Loopers was walking in town when he found Barney’s Bargain Barn. He came back to tell us about the great prices they had on food items, so several of us walked there. Upon arrival, a man motioned us to a large shed that was attached to the building. Inside were big boxes of various kinds of food. He told us “Help yourself. It’s all free.” I think we had found a food pantry, probably set up for low income people, and I had a guilty feeling of taking food from people who probably needed it. But he kept insisting that we take things. When we went inside, we did indeed, find some great prices on some food items. We purchased a few things and then took some of the free packages of cookies outside in the shed. Always new experiences on this trip!
Speaking of food, we found some Hawberry Jelly and a story to go with it. Hawberries grow on Manitoulin Island. They aren’t the most scrumptious of berries to eat. At one time, only poor people ate the berries which no one else wanted. If someone called you a “Haweater,” it was a real put down meaning you couldn’t afford to eat better food. As years went by, the Hawberry grew in status as a symbol of the island. Now, only people who were born on the island can call themselves “Haweaters.” We just had to get a jar of the Hawberry Jelly to try it. OK – not so great, but we liked the history lesson.
We were also fortunate to be introduced to Smoked Fish Spread which is made in the North Channel. It is “some kind of good!” It’s always fun to try the local fare – sometimes it’s a treat and sometimes it’s a “once in a lifetime experience,” because we don’t want to eat it again!!